News of the WeekAnthropology

Proto-Polynesians Quickly Settled Pacific

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Science  10 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5447, pp. 2054-2056
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5447.2054b

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Researchers have long debated the origins of the ancestors of the Polynesian people who settled the islands of the East Pacific. Geneticists argue that seafaring proto-Polynesians originated in Southeast Asia and quickly island-hopped eastward, sweeping through Melanesia in the West Pacific along the way; archaeologists argue that Polynesian ancestors originated in Melanesia itself, a hotbed of human diversity with a 45,000-year record of habitation. Now geneticists have combined DNA and linguistic data from Melanesia to make a new case in last month's American Journal of Physical Anthropology that the archipelago was only a way station.